Poetry is a breeze at Talking Leaves
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
In the farthest corner of Talking Leaves, readers and audience members sat together in an intimate arrangement of wooden lawn chairs, waiting and chatting beside the walls of endless books, where the stereotypical idea of poetry readings was immediately shattered.
Last Wednesday evening, a small gathering of people met at Talking Leaves Bookstore on Main Street for a reading from three local poets. Randy Rumley, English professor at Niagara County Community College, hosted Rustling the Leaves, in conjunction with the Raiders of Niagara reading series.
For all three poets who read on Wednesday night, poetry is not simply a hobby but more of a calling or passion.
Mark Fulk, an associate English professor at Buffalo State College, has previously been published in Artvoice and Penwood Review. Fulk, a stocky man, began his reading with a small poem – a haiku, or short form of Japanese poetry.
Fulk shared several of his favorite poems with the audience through a gentle and meditative delivery that reflected on a number of his influences. Fulk’s poetic inspirations include his family’s roots in the Mountains of Appalachia, nature and music.
Susan Marie, who performed after Fulk, works in journalism and public relations but considers herself a poet first. Marie spoke of a jazz influence in her work in her first reading of “The Beat.”
With hands flowing gracefully and choreographing her words like a dancer, Marie paid homage to Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation with rhythmic lines and jazz articulation.
According to Marie, Talking Leaves reminds her of City Lights, the famous independent bookstore owned by Lawrence Ferlinghetti that published and nurtured the works of famous Beat writers like Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.
“I think of everything that happened [at City Lights,] with the obscenity trials for ‘Howl’ and Allen Ginsberg,” Marie said. “[City Lights] is an independent bookstore and Ferlinghetti made sure it stayed that way. When you take it back to Buffalo, [Talking Leaves] is what we have, and I love it.”
Marie went on to share poems in a confessional style with more references to Beats and other favorite writers. Her poetry works as a stream of consciousness, particularly in “Literary Withdrawal.”
Before the night ended, all were treated to a brilliant finale from Ken Feltges.
Feltges, an English and film studies teacher for over 45 years between his time at Kenmore West High School and Mount St. Mary Academy in Buffalo, has a new book available for purchase at Talking Leaves.
Feltges recited works from his book, Before Things Change, and other poems written in everyday language and carried by a sophisticated and enthralling delivery.
Feltges began right away with a reference to baseball as an appropriate setting for the autumnal season in his poem “Fat Kid.” The poem delivered moments of humor and sentimentality, which Feltges bounced between throughout his several poems.
“People come to hear things. They don’t come to walk out manically depressed at the end of the evening,” Feltges said. “I try to say, ‘OK, a pad and a punch.’ I look at it as show business.”
The highlight of the evening was Feltges’ tale of lefties.
Feltges’ poem, “All’s Right with the World,” highlights the woes and struggles of being a left-handed person but also shares the often-unseen beauty that lefties possess in their awkwardness. A particularly wonderful reference is to the last home run of Mickey Mantle’s career – a left-handed blow.
After a final address from Rumley with thank you’s, handshake and goodbyes exchanged, all in attendance at Talking Leaves rustled into the bustle of Main Street.
Talking Leaves will host another reading and book signing on Friday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. as a continuation of Rustling the Leaves.